Cover image for Marcel Duchamp : the bachelor stripped bare: a biography
Marcel Duchamp : the bachelor stripped bare: a biography
Marquis, Alice Goldfarb.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : MFA Publications, [2002]

Physical Description:
359 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 23 cm
General Note:
"A substantially different version of this book was published by the Whitson Publishing Company in 1980 as Marcel Duchamp: eros, Cʹest la via."--T.p. verso.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6853.D8 M365 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Taking a refreshingly objective look at Duchamp's real contribution to modern art, this gorgeous hardbound volume explores his myriad personal relations, his creation of major works, his passion for chess and his presumed abandonment of painting. It also moves beyond Duchamp's diffident mask to explore the passions and insecurities that motivated his artistic and personal evolutions, separating the artist from the con artist, to determine how profound an influence he has been. Based on first-hand interviews, the book also includes almost 100 gorgeous illustrations.

Author Notes

Alice Goldfarb Marquis is a visiting scholar at the University of California at San Diego.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Perhaps the 20th-century art world's most stimulating gadfly, Duchamp (1887-1968) wielded great influence on young American artists, from his cavalier pronouncements and installations to his cryptic sense of humor. He is the subject of an enormous critical industry and produced an alarming amount of primary source material in his own prose and interviews. Sifting through the latter requires a canny guide with a keen eye for separating jests from what Duchamp meant in earnest; journalist and historian Marquis, a visiting scholar in history at the University of California-San Diego (Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding) does an excellent job. Duchamp spent more time on his "persona," she charges, than his "extremely limited" series of works. In discussing Duchamp's long stint chess playing rather than overt art making, she compares Duchamp to other "disappearing acts" of French artistic life, creators like Gauguin who fled the spotlight to work in their own private corners, then shows how an American audience took this traditional approach as unusual and refreshing. In 12 chapters that include 16 pages of color plates (not seen by PW) and 65 b&w images, Marquis examines the artist's legacy, the way his jokes empowered dealers, artists and art historians, who in turn promoted pop, conceptual and postmodern art that also ridiculed the idea of art. Without taking any guff from Duchamp, and carefully treading between the real contributions and interview verbiage as if she were wearing hip boots, Marquis is a sane and sensible guide to the continually puzzling paradox of Duchamp. The book makes an excellent beginning point for readers who have seen some of the work and want to know more about man and myth. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The grandfather of postmodernism and a consummate trickster, Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) remains one of the most complicated characters in art history. In addition to an intellectually demanding oeuvre, he made public statements about his life and work that were often elusive, even contradictory. Journalist and historian Marquis (Alfred H. Barr, Jr.) sets out to present what she feels is a much-needed objective look at the artist, the man, and the conundrum. Though she doesn't attempt to discredit Duchamp or previous Duchamp scholarship, she doesn't take his Olympian stature at face value either. Even Duchamp enthusiasts who might bristle at statements like "Duchamp's art, like tripe, is an acquired taste" will likely thrill to the previously unpublished interviews, letters, and bits of gossip contained here. This alone makes the sure-to-be-controversial biography a noteworthy addition to Duchamp scholarship. The uninitiated may want to start with Calvin Tompkins's more admiring Duchamp: A Biography, but this work is recommended to anyone who wants to explore further. With color plates of major works and candid snapshots of the artist and his circle. In contrast to Marquis's fresh approach, the monograph Marcel Duchamp presents solid but typical essays on the master by Duchamp scholars. One of curator Szeeman's goals is to elucidate Duchampian ideas and their effect on other artists, specifically Jean Tinguely. The publisher hoped to have this supersede previous volumes by reproducing individual works in a larger scale and by including some more obscure artwork. But consequently every item is given more or less equal visual importance, which may cause confusion about the actual size of the original. Still, this handsome and fairly comprehensive volume would be useful to libraries that don't already own Anne D'Harnoncourt's Marcel Duchamp, the retrospective catalog by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, New York.-Douglas McClemont, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Marquis (visiting scholar, Univ. of California at San Diego) has prepared a refreshingly straightforward and informative chronicle of the life of charismatic iconoclast Duchamp, whose legacy remains vital long after his death in 1968. The bizarre behavior of this seductive individualist invited both controversy and devotion. His scant but challenging output as an artist has asserted so enormous an influence on subsequent creative and critical attitudes that his reputation is sometimes said to have eclipsed the impact of Picasso and other great pioneers of modern art. That process of redefinition has recently inspired a spate of interpretive publications, among which Marquis's is distinctively accessible. The text is chronologically arranged in 12 chapters, well paced, clearly put, and rich with personal insights. Unfortunately, the book design is not up to the quality of the exposition. Although the author's discussion is well documented, the omission of a bibliography, along with a chariness of illustration and stingy captions for what is provided, conspire with a certain quirkiness of typography to impede the flow of the text. Perhaps those traits signal a search for economies of production as well as distinctiveness of visual style, but other readers may also find them bothersome. All levels. F. A. Trapp emeritus, Amherst College

Table of Contents

Beatrice Wood
1. Why Duchamp?p. 3
2. Beginningsp. 13
3. An Extraordinary Curiosityp. 39
4. The Joy of Shockingp. 61
5. A Modern Leonardop. 91
6. A Readymade Geniusp. 109
7. The Pun Is Mightier than the Swordp. 147
8. Checkmatep. 179
9. Vacation in Past Timep. 211
10. Breathingp. 239
11. Anti-Famep. 271
12. The Last Wordp. 301
Marcel Duchamp: A Fond Memoirp. 313
Acknowledgmentsp. 315
Notesp. 317
Illustration creditsp. 348
Indexp. 353